Joan Houchen

Joan Houchen
Joan Houchen (Republican) represented [the 10th] district of Snohomish and Island counties in the House of Representatives. First elected in 1978, she served two terms.

Born 1930, in Minnesota, Houchen was raised in Montana. As a child she was hospitalized for two years by a near-fatal brush with tuberculosis. She credits that experience with giving her an appreciation of life, a positive attitude and a "gratitude for being here."

Houchen and her husband own a small farm on Camano Island where she has raised her two children. Because she was concerned with the protection of Puget Sound shorelines and land she volunteered her time to public land development hearings and pursued the cause of enviromental protection so devotedly she was appointed to the Island County Planning Commission. In 1976 a group of Snohomish County residents approached her and asked to run for the Legislature. Her husband urged her to accept. Houchen wanted to change things and reasoned she would have to stand up and accept the challenge in order to do it.

About her first campaign she says. "I just went out and was Mrs. Nice, and I hope you like my style -- but that didn't do it." In 1978 she tried again with a more aggressive campaign and won. Representative Houchen saw herself as a problem-solver, not a lawmaker. Finding solutions to people's problems was the main concern, she said. Speaking in general about issues affecting women she noted, "The old-boy system here does very little for women. I really think that women have to network more with other women."

--Political Pioneers, The Women Lawmakers